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2591Putin supports Medvedev as successor

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  • Greg Cannon
    Dec 10, 2007
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      Putin supports Medvedev as successor

      By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 31
      minutes ago

      MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin expressed support
      Monday for first Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
      as his successor, saying that electing him president
      would keep Russia on the same course of the past eight

      There have been months of intense speculation on whom
      Putin would support to run in the March 2 presidential
      elections — along with the wider question of what
      Putin himself will do once he steps down.

      Putin's popularity and steely control has led most
      observers to expect that whomever he supports would be
      certain to win the elections.

      Putin had long been seen as trying to choose between
      Medvedev, a business-friendly lawyer and board
      chairman of state natural gas giant Gazprom, and
      Sergei Ivanov, another first deputy premier who built
      up a stern and hawkish reputation while defense

      Although Putin is banned by the constitution from
      seeking a third consecutive term in office, he has
      indicated a strong desire to remain a significant
      power figure. He has raised the prospect of becoming
      prime minister, and his supporters have called for him
      to become a "national leader" with unspecified

      Putin made the statement in a meeting with
      representatives of the United Russia party — which is
      his power base and dominates parliament — and of three
      other parties. The parties told Putin they all
      supported Medvedev.

      "I completely and fully support this proposal," Putin
      said, according to footage shown on state television.

      Although he holds powerful positions, Medvedev
      projects a mild-mannered public image and has been
      widely seen as an official devoted to Putin.

      Putin reinforced that perception Monday, saying that
      electing Mevedev would pave the way for a government
      "that will carry out the course that has brought
      results for all of the past eight years."

      The Russian stock market surged on the news, led not
      only by Gazprom shares but also apparently boosted by
      the end of long uncertainty over whom Putin would
      designate as successor.

      Some have speculated that Putin could eventually try
      to return to the presidency — a goal that could be
      easier if Medvedev succeeds him, said Vladimir
      Ryzhkov, a prominent liberal politician.

      "If Putin wants to return in two, three years ...
      Medvedev will be the person who will without a doubt
      give up the path for him," he said on Ekho Moskvy


      Associated Press Writer Mike Eckel contributed to this report.